August 2004

To celebrate our 15th anniversary, Missy and I took a trip to the mountains of northern Georgia where we spent a week in a mountaintop cabin. It was a great trip with no kids (I'm sure they had a great time with no parents too). We drove down to Chattanooga the first day (14 hours) and then continued on to Blue Ridge, GA the next day (90 minutes). The cabin was awesome….hot tub (very nice), pool table, 2 decks, screened porch, 3 fireplaces, a mountain top view and more. I was leary that the website pics were too good to be true, but the cabin exceeded our expectations. During the week there we visited the 1996 Olympic kayak facility and watched kayakers and white river rafters crash down the rapids, went horse back riding on mountain trails, went white river rafting ourselves (with Sonny the 75 year old guide), went canoeing and more. Usually I'm giving Missy a hard time about her being a viewer and me being a do-er during our vacations but now I may have to reconsider that as she was quite the do-er during this trip. Here's a bit of a long story involving our canoeing trip…

The day after we went river rafting we decided to rent a canoe. Originally we wanted to canoe on a large lake near our cabin but all they offered were pontoon boats. We were told that canoes and tubes were rented by a campground 12 miles away. We found a brochure on the campground and it listed the canoe trip as being great for beginners. We figured that would be perfect as I'd only done it once as a kid and I don't think Missy had ever done it. So we drive to the campground and rent a canoe. There are tubers ahead of us and they go into the river first. The rental guy tells us that the river is a bit low so we might get hung up on some rocks from time to time. He also tells us there are a few light rapids but to just keep the canoe straight and we will be fine.

We throw our stuff in the canoe, climb in and begin our adventure. Our stuff includes towels, water camera (from white river rafting the day before), life jackets and misc. The river was peaceful so we didn't have our life jackets on. It is a 6 mile trip down the river to our take out point which amounts to a 2 hour canoe trip. Anyway, we quickly pass the tubers and soon come to some light rapids. We pick a path and row towards it…wrong path. The water is too shallow in this part of the river and we get stuck on the rocks. We use the oars and push ourselves along until we are off the rocks and headed downstream again. A little further downsteam we come to another rapids area. We decide to go left of a big rock and begin rowing hard in that direction…lets just say that half our canoe made it past that rock. We hit the rock at an angle (gotta keep the canoe straight), which at our speed immediately rolls the canoe. Missy goes completely underwater. I keep my head above water and grab the canoe so it won't float down the rapids without us. The canoe is filled with water and some of our stuff stays in it, but one of Missy's shoes, her paddle and her life jacket are all headed downstream in a hurry. At this point, I'm thinking I should have left my wallet in the car and my keys at the rental building. I figure my wallet will dry out, but wonder if my electronic door lock/unlock device is now ruined.

We wade across the rapids to some rocks in the river where I can roll the canoe over to dump out the water. With only one shoe, Missy picks her way carefully across the slippery rocks. We're still in good spirits (I can't believe Missy is taking this so well) and we wave to the tubers behind us and climb back into the canoe. We're off to catch up to the stuff that floated away. We catch up to the shoe, the oar and the life jacket. Missy now puts on her life jacket, I leave mine off but clamped around a bar in the canoe. We continue on downstream. Along the way we get hung up in a few more shallow areas, but since I'm already soaked, I just jump out and push the canoe off the rocks.

About halfway down we find another nice set of rapids. There is also an area here for people to park. There are a few people fishing and others just enjoying the view while walking their dog. We come through the rapids and once again our canoe skills are displayed…only this time we have an audience. We clip another rock and over we go again. I hit the water and immediately grab the canoe so it won't get away. The water rushing around me is about thigh deep. I see our stuff starting to float out of the canoe. First goes a towel, then our sun tan lotion, then Missy's souvenir T-Shirt from river rafting. I also notice that our water camera is starting to float out of the canoe. I realize I need to grab the camera before it heads down the rapids. I look over my shoulder for Missy. Somehow she has ended up upstream of me and I see her coming down the rapids... face first! I yell for her to turn around as I'm concerned that she will hit a rock face first. I look back at the camera…it is now nearly out of the canoe. All of a sudden I feel a huge tug on my legs, nearly taking my feet out from under me. I look down and it is Missy. She was flying by in the rapids and wrapped her legs around mine to stop her. The camera floats out of the canoe, I let it go. While holding the canoe with my left arm, I grab Missy with my right and pull her up to her feet. We watch as our camera flies down the rapids. We work our way down the rapids and then over to the shore. We've lost lots of stuff this time… camera, sunglasses, towel, t-shirt and suntan lotion. I roll the canoe to empty the water and we get ready to go again (half way there). A guy on the shore asks us if we own the canoe…I look at him and say "Do we look like we own a canoe?". He chuckles and I tell him we rented it. He asks where we rented it. We tell him and then push off so we can go find our stuff. Missy is still pretty calm and collected about everything…I'm impressed.

We head downsteam and find our suntan lotion. We continue down, working our way through some more light rapids and through a few more shallow areas. All is going well except we are not finding anymore of our stuff. The one thing we really want to find is the camera since it has pictures on it from river rafting. No luck. We don’t find it. Near the end of our trip down the river we catch up to some other tubers. They are stopped and we hear the roar of the largest rapids yet (the campground told us the worst one would be at the end). I climb out of the canoe to hold onto it while we talk to the tubers. We ask if they saw our camera. They hadn't but tell us that there is a falls up ahead. That's enough for Missy. She says she's done. We see a gravel road across the stream with an area where we can land the canoe and she can walk to the road. The road follows the river the rest of the way down. I figure I'll just walk the canoe across the river. I take 1 step and go from knee deep to chest deep water…I stepped in a big hole! I climbed out of the hole and figured I'd better row across. I climb in the canoe and we row across. Missy climbs up to the road and begins walking down it with her life jacket on and carrying her oar. She figures if the big headed banjo boy from Delieverence comes out of the mountain woods she will clock him with the oar. I head down the river towards the final set of rapids.

These rapids are the worst by far. Lots of big rocks and fast water. I'll have to continually turn the canoe left and right to work my way through them. With my less than superior canoeing skills, I know I won't be able to do that. I see a big rock, probably 10 feet across. I run the canoe up on it and climb out to survey my situation. There's another big rock just over a canoe's length away. I point the canoe at it and give it a big push to get it across the water and up on that next big rock. That done, now I have to get myself over there. I begin to wade in but the water is looking deep and is moving very fast. I'm having second thoughts. I stare at the deep, fast water and decide I'm not going through there. I back track up onto the rock and then work myself over to shore, then downstream a bit and back across to the rock with my canoe. From there I pick my next course, line up the canoe, climb in and take off. I see the falls now. Not overly large, but lots of water pouring over them. I'd say the falls is about 2 and a half feet high. I figure if I keep the canoe straight, then I can go right over without a problem. Wrong again.

At this time a car pulls up to Missy. They are lost and asking for directions. Missy wonders if she looks like a local walking down the road with her life jacket on and carrying an oar. She tells them she doesn't know where anything is and that she and her husband had spilled the canoe twice going down the river. They look over at me just as I go over the falls. The front of my canoe hits the bottom of the falls and veers hard to the right. I'm in the river again taking another swim. The guy comments to Missy "There he goes again". Boy is she ever proud she married me. ;-) I grab the canoe again and drag it to shallow water where I can roll it over. I drain the water and climb back in. The end is now in sight. I pull in and the rental guy yells to Missy to stay over on that side of the river, that we'll come get her. We load up, drive over to pick up Missy and return to the rental office.

Once back to our Durango, I try to use the electronic unlock device and it works. Whew! We then drive back down and wait for the other tubers. We're hoping maybe they saw our camera. No such luck. We're devastated. Back at our cabin we soak in the hot tub. I can't stop thinking about the lost camera. I tell Missy that I want to go back tomorrow and tube down the river. Maybe I can find it in a tube. She doubts we will find it, but I won't feel right unless I at least try. We go back the next morning and I tell the rental guy that I want to tube down and try to find our camera. He doubts we'll find it but lets me have a tube for free. We drive down to where we lost it and I push off in my bright pink tube. Missy is snapping pictures as I float away. She'll drive down and pick me up at the bottom. About a quarter mile down, I see some big rocks near shore and head that way. Near the rocks are some trees with about 3 twigs hanging down into the water. I see something caught on the twigs. I jump on the rock and there it is… our camera! I grab it out of the water as I hear Missy drive by. I wave to her but she can't see me… so now I have to tube the rest of the way down the river (which was easier than canoeing). It takes about another hour or so to float down the river but it was worth it since we found the camera.

Just to give you a visual...here's a few photos of the cabin, white river rafting, canoeing and me drifting away on a tube to find the camera.

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